The act of sticking out one's pinky finger while drinking is thought to date back to the medieval practice of using it for dipping into spices, such as mustard or salt, while eating. During this time period, eating utensils were not typically used. Rather, food was eaten with the hands, with the pinky fingers being extended out to remain clean so they could be dipped into spices and placed on the tongue. After the 16th century, utensils became commonplace, but the act of extending the pinky finger, particularly while drinking tea, has remained for some as an act of formality.
More facts about pinky fingers:
- Many etiquette experts frown upon extending the pinky finger while drinking and deem it a sign of pretentiousness.
- According to a 2010 study, exclusion of the pinky finger reduces grip strength by 33%.
- After the 16th century, using one's pinky fingers to dip into spices and then place on the tongue was considered an act of sensuality and was opposed by many clergymen for being a sign of gluttony and lust.